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Noise Cancellation

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Time is around 11 pm. Rain is killing the sky with its sharp droplets cutting through and the sky started to moan thunders. It’s been raining for the past few days. Sometimes it would be a drizzle, sometimes it would be a downpour but it never stopped. Ben curled in his bed obscuring his mother’s words trying to show that he is sulking. Ben is a music freak. He can listen to music all day without any complaint and obviously, he is a headphone freak too. Just a month ago, Bose launched its first commercial noise-cancelling headphones. He saw a commercial for those headphones where a man wearing noise cancellation headphones comes out of his house and his neighbour asks him,

“How are you John?”

“How do I know about you?”

“I am not asking about me. I am asking about you John.”

“My wife is good. She went out for groceries.”

“God! I am asking HOW ARE YOU?”

“How dare you say my wife is hot?”

“What’s wrong with you man? I didn’t say that about your wife.”

“You are saying I look sexy? I always had a doubt about you being gay.”

“Fuck off !”

“I am fine. Thanks for asking. How are you?”

Listen to the music obscuring all the sounds around you. Buy now to get an other worldly experience. This is their tagline.

Though Ben is so eager to learn and listen to music, his parents are not wealthy enough to afford. His father and mother work the whole day to earn their living. Last time he asked them to buy an iPod which is worth their savings to remodel their house. It’s been years since their roof was repaired. It leaks water during heavy rains. They repaired the roof for Ben’s room. When they were about to repair theirs, Ben had asked for an iPod. He asks only once not more than that. If they buy him, it will be well and good or else, he’ll act like a guest in his own house. His parents can’t see him like that. They bought him an iPod. Now, when they pooled money to repair their roof before this rainy season, he asked for the noise cancelling headphones. His parents tried to explain to him how bad the leakage of rain in their room is and how bad the roof’s condition is. Ben nodded as if he is okay with not buying it. From then he locks up in his room all day saying that he is feeling sleepy and dizzy. He takes food to his room rather than eating together. He knows that his parents bought him an iPod instead of repairing their roof last time. He was skeptical to ask about these headphones now, but he couldn’t stop. Now he feels bad for asking and at the same time he feels he needs them very badly.

Tonight, her mother is asking him to come out for dinner.

“Ben, dinner is ready honey.”

-Silence-

“Ben, dinner is ready. I cooked your favourite food. Come out. You won’t regret it.”

“I am not hungry mom.”

“Don’t say that honey. Once you come out, you’ll eat till your tummy is full.”

Unwillingly, Ben came out of his room to take dinner to his room. When he came out, he was surprised to see a gift package on the dinner table. He rushed to open it. His parents were so happy to see his face smiling in excitement after many days. He opened the package and smiled from ear to ear. They gifted him the brand new Noise cancelling headphones. He took them into his hands and hugged their parents.

“Dad I love you so much! But, what about the roof?”

“It should have happened a week ago. We gathered enough money to repair it by the next week. You don’t worry about that. Enjoy your headphones.”

“Thank you dad. Thank you so much.”

“I got another gift for you.”

“What! What is it?”

“We took an admission for you to learn music in the academy.”

Ben couldn’t control his happiness. He kissed his mom and dad. He neve asked his parents about the admission. But they always know what he wants. He was overwhelmed. When the rain and thunder were roaring outside the windows, they had one of the happies dinners.

After the dinner, Ben came to his room eagerly to test how music sounds through his new headphones. He plugged them to his iPod and started to play his favourite song. He was stunned to see how the sound of his ceiling fan faded away. He can no longer hear the rain water hitting trees and roofs. No more sounds of blazing thunders. He felt he went to another world where only he and music live. He loaded his playlist and started to dance a bit in rhythm to the music. Rain started to pace up along with high speed winds. This would turn out to be one of the deadliest rains the city has seen. As the night proceeded, winds became too bad and radio started to broadcast the news about trees and current poles falling unable to withstand the wind. Ben’s mother woke up to the sounds and went to a nearby window to see how bad it is. While she was watching, trees and poles started to lift off the ground and fell. It became chaos. All of a sudden a huge tree nearby their house started to loosen up. It fell onto their house. House was strong enough to hold the tree but not the roof. Within seconds, the roof which was already leaking rain, collapsed on them.

Ben is enjoying his favourite tracks. With the help of his new headphones, he started to live in the music world forgetting the current, closing his eyes and kicking a few steps. In his parents room, half of the roof is still hanging while the other half fell on his parents. His mother is half underneath the collapsed roof. She opened her eyes, feeling that she can’t feel her legs anymore. She drowned in the rain and looked for her husband. She saw his face through the blocks of the fallen roof. She called her husband, but he did not respond. Is he unconscious or is he dead? With fear in her tone, she called, “BEN !”

Ben is shifting from track to track seamlessly with the all new iPod and headphones. He is thinking about his new music class and how he is going to plan his career. He is enjoying every beat of the music. He couldn’t stop himself from dancing. Tears started rolling from his mother’s eyes along with the rain. She kept on shouting, ‘Ben! Ben! Ben!” She tried to reach for her husband but realised she can’t even move an inch. She tried to get hold of the phone on the desk but the efforts went in vain. After an hour, one of their neighbors came looking for them as the tree was still leaning on to the house. They were shocked to see Ben’s parents under the collapsed roof. They opened Ben’s door.

This all happened 20 years ago when I was 12. I lost my father on that day. Doctors told us that they could’ve saved him if we took him a bit earlier. My mother lost her legs and she is in a wheelchair now. Back then the regret and guilt killed me. The thoughts, ‘I could’ve saved my parents if I took headphones off for a minute. I could’ve saved them if I never asked for those headphones.’ killed me. I was drowned in my own sorrow. But, can I do anything about what happened? Can this regret and guilt do anything good to me or to my mother? I realised that I have to get past the regrets and guilt to live my life. If I was struck with the guilt, I couldn’t have become the CEO of Bose. Now I am happy that I am taking good care of my mother and provided a better path to my children. We have to move on and this is the only way.

P.S This is completely a fictional story. Not inspired by any real events.

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